And you may say to yourself, “My God, what have I done?”
Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again, after the money’s gone…
I used to think that this most excellent of rock songs was about losing your mind because you sold out to “The Man” and got overly fancy with your life. But right now it sounds like it is about losing your mind over learning when to draw the line with money, because this interpretation suits my current dilemma. So don’t judge; at least I tried to interpret a Talking Heads song.
Well, how did I get here? Last week I took a brief and maybe even perceptible break from blogging and nearly all other enjoyments of my life. I embarked on the first of a series of work projects that are meant to help me along on my professional path toward leadership. Since last Thursday I have worked 20 hours overtime. No blogging, no running, no working on my Dad’s family cookbook, barely any time for this DIY project. Where did the last week go, and how did the cheese and meats compartment of the fridge get so sad and empty? Mr. Goodies here had to make all the dinners and bring in all the chicken eggs and solely entertain the dog. The whole balance is off.
And yet I have been dreaming of career-advancing projects since I was about 7. I was a very driven child. So why am I feeling all whiny now that it’s happening, after only 8 short years in the working world? I’m fortunate to be regarded favorably, it’s a great compliment, and I am appreciative of both. And yet this discomfort keeps bubbling to the surface.
It is the indigestion of the frugally-lifestyled. I don’t know if it’s because of all my time-consuming, cost-saving projects, or because learning to save your money kills off your lust for money. Or because longer hours cause you to get sloppy and spend more money to make problems go away. But the long hours of corporate responsibility (despite the potential extra money that goes with it) seem to conflict with the overall life goals of the frugal. I really never thought I would be saying anything like this.
I still believe, as my parents taught me, that a prime purpose in life is to contribute your maximum benefit to society through your work. I understand that I owe my A-game to my company for choosing and valuing me. That is my professional goal: to slam dunk every day at work and some day become defense engineering’s MVP. But when you factor in my non-work goals and normalize and weight the two to produce my overall life goals, I just wish you could pack your A-game into a clean 40-hr week even as you advance.
I spoke with a colleague on the project I’m working on. She said she stands her ground, and recently cut back to no night work at home, and only about 6 hours of extra work on weekends. This seems to be the struggle and routine of many in the leadership environment. I just need to figure out how to balance all of my goals with my sense of commitment and my company’s expectations of me so I steer clear of those struggles. It will be an interesting journey anyway.